It was a Sunday morning in August when we picked up a small gang of teenage girls who didn't know each other from a Whole Foods parking lot in West Vancouver and drove them 8 hours into the interior of British Columbia for what would be a life-changing experience for all of them—and for us.
We knew when we envisioned Girl In The Wild that it was good and important and that it would leave an impression and be a positive light in the lives of teenage girls. We knew it was special. Because it came from our hearts directly and from our own struggles. It rose from our own darkness. And we knew it would be spectacular.
What we didn't know, and what we learned from spending seven days with 7 teenage girls in a wild space, was that it was the beginning of a revolution. It was the start of all girls rising.
It's impossible to really explain what happened at camp because it was inexplicably beautiful. It was a seven-day metamorphosis. And the butterflies at the end were seven young lions walking so damn tall outta the Selkirk mountains with love for themselves that you could see in their faces and a lightness sparked by new found confidence and a deep respect for their peers. It was the most incredible thing we've ever born witness to.
Here are some highlights:
1. We talked a lot, every night actually, for hours about hard things.
It's not easy to tell strangers your deepest darkest secrets. And we did. We opened up about our struggles, the negative voices in our heads, our body issues, our dreams, our worries. All of it. We cried so damn hard together. And then we laughed at how much we were crying. And it was a release.
"I am grateful for crying," said one of our lions in our gratitude circle one evening. She explained: "I haven't been able to do that and it feels freeing."
2. We got sweaty together in the alpine.
We traversed boulder fields and alpine meadows with babbling brooks like out of a movie. We climbed rocks and tied figure-8 knots and belayed each other and cheered for each other as we ascended. We jumped into an alpine lake and made mud masks outta the mineral-rich lake bottom and laughed our stinkin' faces off. We did physically challenging things all week that pushed these lions to find their limits. (News flash: Turns out, they were limitless!) They pressed on, even when they were sore and weary and kinda over it. They always pressed on. They helped and supported each other—carrying extra gear to alleviate the pressure on the weary, lending a hand to the scared over sketchy loose boulders. They pressed on.
"I am proud of myself for carrying on when I didn't want to," confessed one of our lions. "It was really hard and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. And I did it."
3. We got up really stinkin' early and saluted the sun.
Every morning at 6:30, seven bleary-eyed teenagers who'd been up to the wee hours of the morning connecting with each other and watching the stars come to life and having deep and heated and real conversations, trudged up the mountain to do an hour of yoga at sunrise. The bugs were fierce. Their spirits were fiercer. And they greeted the day with love and gratitude and Warrior Pose for good measure. It's not easy to get up early, get bendy on an empty stomach, with a swarm of bugs all around—and they did.
"I didn't love getting up and doing yoga," one said in all honesty. "But I needed it. And I think maybe I did love it after all."
4. We connected. Deeply.
One of the most important values we wanted to install in these girls was the power of the sisterhood. When a group of girls connects without judgement and only love, they are unstoppable. And that's exactly what these girls did. Seven of the most different humans you'd ever meet, a motley crew who, from the outset, shared little in common. We encouraged them to be curious and they accepted the challenge. What ensued was heart-stompingly beautiful: The birth of the tightest, deepest, truest sisterhood we ever did see. Love, respect, support, and zero fucking judgement. At all. A celebration of weirdness and a curiosity about differences. It was so damn cool.
"My favourite part about camp was the girls," explain one lion. "I feel like I have sisters for life now and girls I can count on. I've never had that."
It is impossible to sum up Girl In The Wild in four succinct points.
It was an experience. It was love and adventure and confidence and connection and all good things. It was girls rising.
We are ever grateful for every single human and business alike that chose to support us financially and/or with time, talent, or t-shirt purchases. THANK YOU. You literally helped seven girls see their magic, dream their dreams even bigger than before, learn to love their ability, see their bodies in a new light, and create an impenetrably strong sisterhood. There are seven young girls out in the world now who are leaders. Who are going to live their purpose and silence negativity and choose to rise because of you.
This is the beginning.
And it was the most incredible birth.
To the seven lions who were brave enough to come to camp this year: THANK YOU. We love you. We believe in you so hard. And you changed our lives forever.
All photos by the amazing Bobbi Barbarich.